Kirjoittaja
Sara Salomaa

The right to unionise is at the core of a free society

Employees at Amazon's Alabama facility are to vote on the opportunity to unionise in March.  The vote has been prepared in a disharmonious atmosphere.

Employees at Amazon's Alabama facility are to vote on the opportunity to unionise in March.  The vote has been prepared in a disharmonious atmosphere. Trade unions have placed their support behind the employees’ right to unionise, while Amazon has encouraged its employees to vote against the motion.  The company has been waging a visible campaign regarding the matter.

TEK’s work life specialist Daniel Valtakari considers the vote in Alabama to be of major significance. The result, which will be available at the end of March, will show the way for working life in the future.

– This is a massive issue in the world of tech giants such as Amazon. These are companies that some say are more powerful than nation states. If the employees are able to unionise, it sends a clear message that one cannot simply dictate the rights of employees from above. 

If the motion passes, Amazon's employees in Alabama will be allowed to join the union for retail and wholesale employees. Amazon employs some 800 000 employees in the United States. We are talking about an enormous group of people and their rights.

– The right to unionise is at the core of a free society. In Amazon's case the issue is also about whose voice matters in a major company. This might also spark discussion on the status of employees, who now get to voice their opinions. 

There has been colourful discussion in the US about how the company that is making huge profits rewards its employees. Valtakari considers it inconsistent that Amazon’s management restricts the working conditions of its employees while raking in enormous profits.

– Jeff Bezos, who is one of the richest men in the world, likes to be seen as a philanthropist who donates billions to good causes, such as climate change prevention. However, I believe genuine philanthropy begins from granting one's own employees a reasonable salary and regular working life rights.

In early 2021, President Biden also weighed in on the Amazon issue. The President used stern language to defend the employees’ right to unionise. Valtakari is delighted about the global discussion on justice and the terms and conditions of work.

– As a trade union we are actively involved in these talks. International operation is one of the duties of trade unions. We have the opportunity to support each other, to stand on the side of the weaker party and ensure that people's rights are secured also in their working lives. Trade unionism operates across the globe.